By Tanzina Vega
A newly found imprint of a vast, ancient underground lake in Sudan's Darfur could restore peace to the region by providing a potential water source to an area ravaged by drought, a U.S. geologist says.
"What most people don't really know is that the war, the instability, in Darfur is all based on the lack of water," said Farouk el-Baz, director of Boston University's Center for Remote Sensing.
International experts estimate 200,000 people have died in four years of rape, killing and disease in Darfur, violence the United States calls genocide. Sudan rejects that term and puts the death toll at 9,000.
Widespread environmental problems are a root cause of Sudan's violence, the U.N. Development Program said in a report last month, noting that deserts had spread southwards by an average of 62 miles over the past four decades.
Many refugees from Darfur settled in regions that were once the domain of nomads, straining water resources and sowing conflict between farmers and nomads, said el-Baz.
"So now, if you find water for the farmers ... in addition to that for the nomads ... for agricultural production, to feed them, to give them grain, then you resolve the problem completely," he told Reuters in an interview.